Late prehistoric enclosed settlement and field system on Borrowby Moor, 360m south of Moor House Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1016957

Date first listed: 06-Aug-1986

Date of most recent amendment: 29-Oct-1999


Ordnance survey map of Late prehistoric enclosed settlement and field system on Borrowby Moor, 360m south of Moor House Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: North Yorkshire

District: Scarborough (District Authority)

Parish: Borrowby


National Grid Reference: NZ 76553 14232


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The North York Moors is an area which has an abundance of prehistoric remains, particularly within moorland landscapes where they have not been disturbed by more recent agricultural activity. The remains are evidence for the widespread exploitation of these uplands throughout prehistory. Many remains date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) and relate to diverse activities, funerary and ritual practice as well as agriculture and settlement. For the end of the first millennium BC the range of evidence is more restricted. Settlement at this time was concentrated in the lowland areas surrounding the moors, although some settlement was located on the periphery and in the valleys. These late prehistoric settlement sites on the higher ground are of two types: those consisting of a small number of unenclosed hut circles and those found within small square or sub-rectangular enclosures. Some examples of the former are thought to date from the Bronze Age, but excavation of others and of a few of the enclosed settlements suggests that they were occupied during the Iron Age to the Romano-British period (c.700 BC-AD 400). A number of late prehistoric enclosed settlements on the North York Moors survive as upstanding monuments and these are between 0.1ha and 0.5ha in area. The enclosing earthworks are usually slight and consist of a ditch with an internal bank, but examples are known with an internal and external bank and with an internal ditch or no ditch at all. They are square or sub-rectangular in shape and often have at least two rounded corners, giving a characteristic D-shape. Few of these enclosed settlements have been subject to systematic excavation but examples which have been excavated have presented evidence of settlement, including the presence of buildings. Some of the enclosures may also have had a function as stock enclosures. Enclosed settlements are a distinctive feature of the late prehistory of the North York Moors and are important in illustrating the variety of enclosed settlement types which developed in many areas of Britain at this time. Examples where a substantial proportion of the enclosed settlement survives are considered to be nationally important. Regular aggregate field systems date from the Bronze Age (c.2000-700 BC) to the end of the fifth century AD. They usually cover areas of up to 100ha and comprise a discrete block of fields orientated in roughly the same direction, with the field boundaries laid out along two axes set at right angles to one another. Individual fields generally fall within the 0.1ha-3.2ha range and can be square, rectangular, long and narrow, triangular or polygonal in shape. The field boundaries can take various forms, including drystone walls or reaves, orthostats, earth and rubble banks, pit alignments, ditches, fences and lynchets and can follow straight or sinuous courses. Component features common to most systems include entrances and trackways. The settlements or farmsteads from which people utilised the fields over the years have been identified in some cases and these are usually situated close to or within the field system. The development of field systems is seen as a response to the competition for land which began during the later prehistoric period. The majority are thought mainly to have been used for crop production, evidenced by the common occurrence of lynchets resulting from frequent ploughing, although rotation may also have been practised in a mixed farming economy. Regular aggregate field systems occur widely and have been recorded in south western and south eastern England, East Anglia, Cheshire, Cumbria, Nottinghamshire, North and South Yorkshire and Durham. They represent a coherent economic unit often utilised for long periods of time and can thus provide important information about developments in agricultural practice in a particular location and broader patterns of social, cultural and environmental change over several centuries. Those which survive well or can be linked positively to associated settlements are considered to merit protection. The settlement and field system on Borrowby Moor are in an excellent state of preservation. The archaeological deposits survive intact and significant information about the date and form of construction will be preserved. Important evidence for the nature and duration of the occupation will survive within the enclosed area. Valuable evidence for environment and economy will be preserved in the field system's ditches and especially within the waterlogged floor area of the principal dwelling. Evidence for earlier land use will also survive beneath the enclosure banks. The enclosed settlement and field system are situated within a concentration of late prehistoric and native Roman period settlement which is unparalleled in this region. The area also includes many earlier monuments. Monument groupings such as these offer important scope for the study of landscape development through time, late prehistoric settlement patterns and continuity into the Roman period.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes an enclosed settlement and associated field system situated at the top of a steep sided stream gully on the north edge of the North York Moors. The settlement is visible as a sub-rectangular embanked enclosure measuring up to 35m east to west and 45m north to south. The enclosing earthen banks are 2m wide and stand up to 0.7m high, except on the east side near the top of the steep slope of the stream gully where they are almost level. In the north side there is an entrance 3m wide. Opposite the entrance at the south end of the enclosure there is a stone hut circle which would have been the principal dwelling of the farmstead. The hut circle survives as a low stony bank around a paved circular floor area which is 8m in diameter. The paving is no longer visible since the floor area is lower than the ground level within the main area of the enclosure and is permanently waterlogged and buried in peat deposits. The hut circle is surrounded by an annexe defined by earth and stone banks up to 3m wide which stand up to 1.6m high above the level of the paved floor area and up to 1m above the exterior ground level. There is an entrance to the annexe in the north side, opposite the entrance to the main enclosure. Two further hut circles lie within the main enclosure towards its north west corner and are visible as low penannular earthen banks up to 2m wide and standing up to 0.6m high. The enclosure originally had subdivisions and other internal features but these are visible now only as fragmentary low earthen banks. Adjoining the south side of the main enclosure is a subsidiary enclosure. It is square with rounded corners and measures 16m across, with a 2m wide entrance in the west side. The edges are defined by earthen banks up to 3m wide and standing up to 0.8m high and there are three smaller embanked enclosures 10m-13m in length and 5m-6m wide appended to the south and east sides and to the west side to the north of the entrance. These four enclosures would have been cultivation plots and paddocks or yards for ancillary activities. To the north of the settlement there is a regular aggregate field system which is defined by a series of low earthen banks up to 2m wide. This consists of three sub-rectangular fields laid out on either side of a hollow way which runs in a south west to north east direction along the west edge of the farmstead. Two fields lie to the east of the hollow way and extend for 30m as far as the top of the steep slope into the stream gully. The southern one has an entrance in the north west corner and measures 25m north to south. Its north side is marked by a ditch 2m wide and 0.4m deep and a bank 2m wide and standing up to 0.6m high. At its west end this bank turns to the north to mark the west edge of the northern field, which measures 20m north to south. One field is visible to the west of the hollow way and it lies opposite the more northerly of the eastern fields. It is square and measures 20m across, and is bounded by a bank on its south and west sides. No northern boundaries are visible to the more northerly fields. The hollow way is up to 3m wide and 1.5m deep and continues in a south westerly direction beyond the settlement for 70m and then continues as far as the boundary wall marking the edge of Borrowby Moor as a shallow depression. This late prehistoric settlement and field system lie in an area where there are other late prehistoric and Roman period settlements as well as many other earlier monuments dating to the prehistoric period.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 32025

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Higham, N, The Northern Counties to AD 1000, (1986), 182-199
Spratt, D A , 'Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology in North East Yorkshire' in Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of North East Yorkshire, , Vol. 87, (1993)
ANY 127/5-6,

End of official listing